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School hears funding update

‘Best practices’ may provide boost

October 16, 2012
By Jason Raiche - staff writer ( , Daily Press

ESCANABA - The Escanaba School Board was updated on the status of potential funding for the district through implementing certain "best practices" at Monday's school board meeting.

In June, Gov. Rick Snyder enacted legislation which would appropriate $80 million to provide per pupil allocations for fiscal year 2012-13 to school districts that meet seven of eight criteria referred to as a "Best Practice Incentive," according to the Michigan Department of Education website.

"What we're attempting to do as a school district is to get $52 more per student on meeting seven out of eight best practices," explained Escanaba Superintendent Michele Lemire at the meeting. "Some of the best practices are relatively easy to get."

Lemire highlighted several of the best practices already in place at the district, which include the district:

accepting applications for enrollment of non-resident students

providing a link on the district's homepage to the MiSchoolData portal

providing physical education consistent with 2003 state board policy on quality physical education, or providing health education consistent with 2004 state board policy on comprehensive health education.

They also obtained competitive bids for non-instructional services for the 2012-13 school year, which they did last spring, and they support opportunities for students to receive postsecondary credit while attending a secondary school, also known as dual enrollment. Each of these are listed among the best practices, although Lemire noted the district is always looking to increase opportunities for students regarding dual enrollment.

"The next one is monitoring individual pupil academic growth in each subject area at least twice during the school's fiscal year using competency based online assessments," said Lemire. She added she's unsure how many school districts, if any, have been able to completely master this requirement. However, she explained this best practice could also be satisfied by creating a plan toward developing infrastructure necessary to give these online assessments and the district's school improvement team will be meeting to start doing this.

"I think we're doing very well in the area of technology, but they're looking for not only the infrastructure and hardware, but a plan to deliver instruction and assessments via using the technology tools, so we'll be working on that and I'll be coming back to you about that," she told the board.

Another best practice listed is to offer online instructional programs or blended learning opportunities for all eligible students.

"We're going to be investigating that," said Lemire. "That one will require us to get some more definitions from the state."

Some of the literature the district has received indicates this best practice would begin at the kindergarten level, so more information is needed.

The eighth best practice is for the district to hold a policy on medical benefit plans, which the school board officially approved during the action portion of the meeting by voting to identify Escanaba Area Public Schools as a policyholder of this insurance policy through MESSA Group Welfare Benefit Programs. The board unanimously supported the agreement.

"We're on our way," said Lemire. "There is some work to do for a few of the items and I'll be reporting on that later."

She said the board can plan to apply for this additional $52 per pupil by creating a resolution stating the district has met seven out of the eight best practices once this has been achieved.

In other business, the board:

approved the 2011-12 audit, presented by Schneider, Larche, and Haapala.

approved having board member Clyde (Jed) Gagnier serve as a representative for the Michigan Association of School Boards Delegate Assembly in November, as he will already be in Detroit for a Resolution and Bylaws meeting. MASB is covering his travel expenses.

approved a leave of absence request by Ruth Oswald from Jan. 18 to June 6, 2013.

approved an updated Principal Evaluation Tool and process.

approved the hiring of the following individuals: Tara Braun as a 1.5 hour noon hour supervisor, Jessica Parlett as a two-hour noon hour supervisor, Dean Miller for the custodian I position at the Upper Elementary and Junior/Senior High School, and the continued employment of a minor student participating in an in-district job placement as part of his Educational Development Plan.

was informed of the successful intervention program at Escanaba Area Public Schools from Title I teacher Rhonda Martineau. Data from the district's involvement in the Dynamic Indicators of Basic Early Literacy Skills (DIBELS) program has indicated the number of sixth-graders who were at risk for reading has dropped from 43 percent in 2005-06, to 10 percent from 2012-13. The school's success story will now be featured in the November DIBELS newsletter and Escanaba has been invited to tell its story at the DIBELS literacy summit in March.

was informed of Escanaba Junior and Senior High School's successful participation in and the positive impact of their involvement in the Challenge Day program from Junior High School Principal Darci Griebel and some student and adult participants that were involved.



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